The Milwaukee Brewers were fresh off a shutout loss last night, just the third time that's happened in the second half of the season. After winning the first two games against the Miami Marlins, the Brewers came into Thursday's day game looking to win three of four and win the series.
That's indeed what they did. Adrian Houser made his return to the starting rotation after a short injured list stint and pitched well, giving up just two runs in five innings of work. The offense came to life to support him, chasing Marlins starter Eury Perez, and taking the lead for good.
Tyrone Taylor played a big part in the win, hitting a pair of RBI doubles, one to tie the game and then one to extend the lead. The Brewers took a 3-2 lead on Taylor's excellent slide into home plate.
With the Brewers win, how much closer are they to winning the NL Central?
What is the Brewers Magic Number to clinch the NL Central?
The magic number for the Milwaukee Brewers to win the NL Central dropped down to 12 today with the Crew's win over the Marlins. The Chicago Cubs were off today so the number can only drop by one. Any combination of Brewers wins and Cubs losses the rest of the way need to total up to 12 and the Brewers will be NL Central champs.
Milwaukee's win on Thursday moves the division lead up to 4.5 games over Chicago. The Brewers have an 82-64 record while the Cubs sit at 78-69. The Cubs have played one more game than the Brewers.
Coming up next for the Brewers is a three game weekend set against the Washington Nationals at American Family Field. The Nationals are 65-82 and in last place in the NL East, but they could look to play spoiler.
The Cubs' next series is on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that's right in the thick of the NL Wild Card race. The Cubs hold the 2nd WC spot and have a two game lead over the Diamondbacks, who hold the 3rd WC spot. Meanwhile there are three teams right behind Arizona battling for that 3rd and final spot. Rest assured, Arizona will be fighting as hard as they can to lock down some wins in that series.
In terms of clinching scenarios, the absolute earliest the Brewers can clinch the NL Central is September 21st, and that's only if the Brewers win each of their next six games and the Cubs lose each of their next six games. The Brewers have the Cardinals coming up after the Nationals while the Cubs have an off day, then face the Pirates.
It's going to be an exciting finish to the regular season as the Brewers magic number continues to dwindle lower and lower.